The 14-time major champion, nearing the end of his comeback campaign from spinal fusion surgery, made seven birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey to stand atop the early leaderboard at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia.
It was the low round of the season for Woods, two shots under his closing 64 at last month’s PGA Championship, and his lowest round in any PGA event since a 61 in the second round of the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational — his most recent triumph.
Woods had not fired a better opening round in a PGA event since a 61 at the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic.
The 42-year-old American has made progress all season in his recovery from nagging back pain, leading in the final round of July’s British Open before settling for a share of sixth and taking second in last month’s PGA Championship.
Woods, whose 79 PGA titles are three shy of Sam Snead’s record, began on the back nine and opened with a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th hole, then added back-to-back birdie putts from 13 feet at 12 and 10 feet at the 13th hole.
At the par-5 16th, Woods landed the ball five feet from the cup on his second shot and rolled in the eagle putt, then pulled off another back-to-back birdie run at the 18th and first holes, the latter from 13 feet.
Former world number one Woods, now ranked 26th, dropped his approach inches from the hole at the par-4 seventh and tapped in for birdie, but missed the green and took bogey at the par-3 eighth then answered with a seven-foot birdie putt at 18.
The reaction, as you would imagine, was one of pure joy from his fans.
Ladies and gentlemen, Tiger *%$#^&* Woods just shot 6-under 29.
— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) September 6, 2018
That was more like it. Early days but getting slightly excited by @TigerWoods once again.
— Ian Roberts (@ianroberts1962) September 6, 2018
I’m so proud of you @TigerWoods
— Sam Brewbaker (@sambrewbaker) September 6, 2018
The tiger 🐅 is definitely back, well done ma man @TigerWoods 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽🐅👏🏽👏🏽 we all knew you were coming, son.
— MARCO ⚰️ PANTANI (@dekostakosta) September 6, 2018
© Agence France-Presse